Maz Schachmann won a cold and wet opener in Plaisir to the lead ‘The Race to the Sun’ on his first participation.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Maximilian Schachmann seized Stage One of the Paris-Nice in a four-way sprint against Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-McLaren) and Tiesj Benoot (Sunweb) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) after he and Tuens linked up with the others with just a couple of kilometres to go. In the overall standings, Schachmann leads Benoot by two second and Teuns by four.
How the stage unfolded
Two in the lead
Overcast and chilly conditions met the 136 riders taking the start, but the conditions did not dampen the action which was initiated from the gun with Romain Combaud (Nippo-Delko-Provence) attacking. The Frenchman was quickly joined by compatriot Jonathan Hivert (Direct Energie). Hivert, going for the KOM jersey, collected four points in third category Cote des Mesnuls (km 9).
The peloton let them have their head and they drew out a gap of 5:45 after 23 km before Deceuninck-Quick Step stepped in and brought the gap back within four minutes. After 40 km, the pace rose again as Circus-Wanty Gobert led the way and the pack split, with a few big names being distanced which included former winner Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Pierre Latour (Ag2R), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) or Guillaume Martin (Cofidis).
Hivert defends KOM lead
The acceleration within the peloton cut Combaud’s and Hivert’s lead down to 30 seconds by the 50km mark while the Porte group found themselves a further 35 seconds adrift. The leading pair were handed one more lifeline shortly before the 60-km mark, as the the peloton reorgnaised itself. But they were finally reined in after 75 km as NTT Pro Cycling upped the pace once more. Despite being caught Hivert ambitions for the KOM were at the forefont and on the first ascent of the cobbled Cote de Neauphle-le-Chateau (3rd cat, km 82), he surged again to collect four more points. and stayed in the front for a while before being reeled in.
Bardet and Barguil in crash
At kilometer 91, as the speed rose again, the peloton split and several riders crashed at a roundabout, including France’s Romain Bardet and Warren Barguil, who hit the tarmac hard and took time to remount. As they were struggling at the back, a group of 16 riders emerged at the front, including favourites Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic), Thibaut Pinot (Groupamla-FDJ) and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step). The rest of the peloton was fragmented with most sprinters among the riders being dropped.
Sixteen in the front
In the last 40 km, Nairo Quintana, Connor Swift (Arkea-Samsic), Olivier Le Gac and Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Felix Grosschartner and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Nikias Arndt, Tiesj Benoot, Cees Bol and Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb), Krists Neilands (Israel-Start Up Nation) and Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels) led the first chasing group – with Peter Sagan, Thibaut Pinot an Sergio Higuita – by some 30 seconds while a second chasing pack, with most of the sprinters – Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, Nacer Bouhanni – more than a minute adrift. Bardet was chasing at nearly two minutes.
Alaphilippe and Benoot go
The Montainville sprint at kilometer 124 triggered an attack by Alaphilippe and Benoot. The Frenchman collected three second and three points ahead of the Belgian while the pack regrouped behind them. The two went ahead in pouring rain and joined forces to widen the gap. Alaphilippe grabbed three more seconds in Beynes (km 138.5) as the gap remained stable.
Ahead of the final cobbled climb the pair has kept a steady 30 second gap to the peloton with Deceuninck-Quick doing its best to disrupt the chase back in the peloton. Bora-Hansgrohe though took up the chase and it allowed Teuns and Schachmann break clear of the chasing pack and finally catch the leaders with 2.5 km to go. In the final kilometre, the two looked in better shape than Alaphilippe and Benoot, the former with the cold etched on every feature. In the closing meters with the peloton in sight the it was Schachmann with the power to seize the day and register an emphatic stage win.
While Schachmann celebrated pain was being dealt out to those distanced at mid-stage with big losses dealt to a large group that included Bardet, Romain Kreuziger, Porte, and Valgren finishing 2’42” adrift.
- Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) in 3h32’19’’
- Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-McLaren) s.t.
- Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb) s.t.
- Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe)
- Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb) at 2’’
- Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-McLaren) at 4’’
Stage 1 Top 10 Results and GC – Full results here